• Film

Foreign Film Submissions, 2015: Gone with the Bullets (China)

Part of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s mission is to foster greater understanding through world cinema. This year 72 Foreign Language films were submitted for Golden Globes consideration. Here is an overview of one of them.

Gone with the Bullets, the second installment of a trilogy of historical action movies by director-writer-actor Jiang Wen (the first one was his 2010 hit Let the Bullets Fly) is about a rigged beauty pageant called the Flowers Competition set up by erstwhile Manchurian aristocrats. The tragicomic hero and flamboyant man-about town of the film is Ma Zouri (Jiang Wen) and his business associate-sidekick-policeman friend is Xiang Feitian (Ge You). Both leave Beijing to seek their fortunes in Shanghai’s metropolis.

Jiang Wen, the 52-year-old filmmaker who graduated from China’s foremost acting school, the Central Academy of Drama, revealed in an interview the difference between the two films: “Where it differs from Let the Bullets Fly is that Gone with the Bullets is based on a true story. In the last century, in the 1920s, Shanghai hosted a beauty contest, but the winner of the contest died by accident. These two things together shocked the whole of Shanghai.”

The film, a satirical, which also stars Zhou Yun (Wu Liu) and Shu Qi (Wanyan Ying), is in fact set in 1920s Shanghai when the beautiful elite of the city attend the beauty pageant gala. But when incumbent beauty queen Wanyan Ying, a self-professed Mongolian princess, wins unexpectedly after her stirring monologue for national rebirth, several fateful events occur.

Wanyan proposes marriage to Ma and after smoking opium; the amorous couple goes on a countryside drive with unexpected tragic consequences. Ma’s fortune turns against him and he becomes a fugitive. Xiang, on the other hand, rises through the ranks in Shanghai’s French concessions. Ma is eventually captured and Xiang suggests Ma to play himself in a film about his own misdeeds before meeting his fate.

Ma, a rebel to the bone, confronts his pursuers and proclaims his innocence in what was supposed to be a staged show trial. In his life journey, he finds himself negotiating his way around almost everybody from warlords to prostitutes, police officers to filmmakers.

Janet R. Nepales